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Monday, March 1, 2010

20 MT Lessons Learned Part 2

OK - so the statement that "nothing went well" is an exaggeration.  There was SOME stuff did go well.  And some stuff that didn't.....Here's the last of my random thoughts for 20 MT.  If anyone has any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll try to get to you via e-mail, or respond in the comments when I'm not at work. 
Clothing - Obviously a lot went wrong with my clothing choices.  However, what I did right RIGHT regarding clothing was to have a dry set of clothes and gloves at each vet check.   I apologize to anyone who say me hopping around in my underwear at the lunch check, trying to change my tights.  I was so cold and stiff all I could think about was getting the wet tights OFF and the new tights on.  The bathroom was occupied, there were no bushes or trees AND the thought of wandering around in the mud trying to find privacy made me want to shoot myself.  It felt SO GOOD to get into dry, warm least until it hailed/rained and my tights got soaked again.  Gortex is a miracle material.  I'm pretty sure the only reason I survived is because my upper body stayed warm and dry the entire ride.  I FINALLY got smart for the last 35 mile loop and wore my waterproof, insulated riding pants I bought last week.  I was so worried about being too hot for the first 30 mile loop, and then I was so SURE it was clearing up for the second 35 miles.....that I kept trying to ride in regular tights.  BIG BIG mistake.  It would have been better to sweat than to get cold and wet.  This was probably the NUMBER ONE reason I got sore and stiff and chaffed - wearing the wrong clothing. 
    • Verdict - better to sweat than to get too cold.
Crew - I need a crew for 100's.  The only reason the lunch check went well was because Karen's husband was there to help me.  My dinner check was a disaster.  By the time I had done everything I needed for my horse - leg protection cleaned, renegades checked and ziptied, saddle modifications, wardrobe changed, vet in, find medicine for me, confirm Dave was going out on the 35 mile loop - I had time to grab the only thing out of my grub box that was portable and could be eaten cold - poptarts.  Uggg.  I don't even really like them, but I knew they were calorie dense.  My typical at camp vet check meal is mac and cheese with tuna, which SO DIDN"T HAPPEN.  I was still late going out for the loop.  I knew there was a chance I was going to have to walk the entire 35 miles so I needed all the time on the trail I could get.  Hind sight being 20/20 I should have taken the 10-15 minutes more and made myself a proper dinner.  Once finished with the ride I could have used some help.  I did the bare necessities of untacking, taking off boots, putting a cooler on and then I went to bed.  There was a lot of stuff I left undone.  I was THIS close to asking my neighbors for help during my dinner check when I realized how incapable I was...but I didn't.  Like I said before, I felt like I had inconvenienced everyone around me quite enough for one weekend and everyone had been so kind and I didn't want to impose. 
    • Verdict:  Until I have more experience, a crew is essential.  I'm also an idiot for not asking for help.  If I'm even CONSIDERING asking for help, I probably really really really need it. 

Boots - Yes, I ended up breaking a cable on a boot ~60 miles in the ride.  But seriously - you should have seen the footing.  Just wait until you see the pictures!!!!  The footing was awful and I couldn't BELIEVE the boots stayed on and didn't rub.  When the cable broke, I dismounted and switched it out for the spare I was carrying.  The whole process from dismounting to mounting back up was less than one minute!  Those renegades are absolutely freaking amazing.  Really, this deserves it's own post.  I ziptied the toe straps on all 4 boots on Karen's suggestion.  At the 35 mile point, 2 of the zipties had broken off (because of the rocks that was in the soup that was the ride footing...) so I replaced them.  I also ziptied the pastern straps of the hind boots because the strap was ONLY staying on by virtue of the o-rings and I wanted a little bit of extra insurance.  The hinds were getting the most mud so were taking the brunt of the wear and tear.  After arriving at the 65 mile check point, I ziptied the toe strap of my spare.  The velcro was toe short to go through the O-rings properly....but with the zip tie I thought it would be OK.  I didn't want to try and adjust the cables and risk stripping the set screw with all the sand and mud that was on the boot.  Plus, the velcro had been applied when it was dry, and if I took the boot off and messed with it, chances were it would be LESS secure because of the mud and sand on the velcro now.  Here's the amazing part of the story.  After finishing 100 miles I looked at my spare and realized that the toe strap had completely come undone and was flopping around.  From the condition of the toe strap, it had been like that for a while.  The zip tie had busted and without the O-rings, the strap had come loose.  But still the boot had stayed on....

    •  Lesson learned:  O-rings are important.  So is proper adjustment of the straps.  Even more important is learning from the experiences of others (like ziptie-ing the toe straps in muddy conditions!)
Sleep, food, and nausea -  Only things I don't have to chew appeal to me during rides.  Example - bananas, pudding, egg salad, hard boiled eggs etc.  It's just silly to bring hard crunchy things when I know this.  I think if I had ate more I could have overcome all of my issues on the last loop.  Instead, not only had I not eaten well, I also was not well rested.  NOT  good combination.  I SWEAR I will pack an icechest for EVERY ride I do in the future that contains food that DOES not need to be cooked AND I actually have a HISTORY of WANTING to eat during rides.  If I haven't even opened the package of trail mix in my crew bag for over a year, it's very doubtful it will be appealing at the next ride...throw it out and get pudding cups.  and jello.  and eggs.  and canned fruit. 
    • Verdict:  I'm an idiot.

 Hydration - I stayed hydrated!  I drank and drank and drank and drank......I and worked!  I think the only reason I was able to get through the last loop on so little food and so little sleep was because I wasn't struggling with dehydration.  Farley was also well hydrated.  I electrolytes sparingly using the protocol I have described before.  She was in season so peed 47 gazillion times during the ride.  (OK - I'm exaggerating, but she peed at LEAST once an hour.  *sigh*). 

    • Verdict:  Now preening and patting myself on the back for being so responsible!
Willing to to take a chance - I took a gamble on my last loop.  What I had been doing for the last 65 obviously wasn't working.  I swallowed my pride and took a painkiller (something I don't usually do), changed out my stirrups (to an aussie style instead of the easy care), put a full sheep skin cover on my saddle (it was stopped raining for read), put on my insulated riding pants over a pair of silk long underwear AND decided to wear my full length insulated ariat winter riding boots.  Although the damage had been done, taking the gamble of trying something new was the ONLY reason I finished the ride with my sanity intact. 
Travel - I took 2 days to get down to the ride.  I think it helped Farley settle better once we got to the fairgrounds, having already spent one night at the trailer.  The trip home was also surprisingly easy.  Approximately halfway through the 6 hour drive I started to get sleepy, took a No Doze (caffeine pill) and stayed awake but not jittery the rest of the way home.  I was shocked as I've had some really rough return trips dealing with Fatigue.  I got home before dark
    • Verdict:  I'm such a good girl!

Tack - Absolutely no tack issues or tack rubs.  Amazing!  I removed leg protection at the lunch and dinner holds, cleaned the legs and was a perfectionist about getting the sand and mud off the boot before reapplying.  I think I got rubs at Tevis from the hind boots because I wasn't religious about making sure the dirt was off.  Talking about leg protection....

  • Leg Protection - On Karen's advice I used back AND front leg protection.  THANK GOODNESS.  For all 100's and rides with crappy footing I will be booting on the legs all the way around.  I had never used front leg protection at a ride before, but the gamble paid off and definitely was a factor in Farley finishing so well.
    • Verdict:  Another pat on the back here.  Listening to advice of people with a LOT more miles pays off once again, and attention to details pays off in the end. 
 Pacing - it really helped that I had done the 65 mile distance the previous year.  I wasn't afraid to walk the long hills because I knew there was plenty of flats.  I focused on keeping a slow steady trot pace and didn't let her do her extended trot or canter (at least...not very much).  At no point was I worried about time and I came into all the checks about when I expected.  I did leave both the lunch and dinner checks late.  The lunch check was shortened to 45 minutes and several 15 minute holds were eliminated.  I knew that I wasn't going to have to worry about time so I gave her extra time at all checks since there wasn't much grazing out on the trail.  
    • Verdict:  Continue to develop that nice, easy trot on rides.  In the past, my speed has been too variable.  Definitely use the Myler Kimberwick for my race starts.  It helped TREMENDOUSLY. 


  1. Mel,

    Can you talk a little bit about how far each loop was, and what your ride time was for each, and the final ride time. My little brain wants to look at how you were pacing Farley.

    I also need a primer (when you are recovered) on some wet weather gear that is comfortable. I have almost virtually ZERO wet weather gear :(


  2. Just got finished reading about this whole grand adventure - WHAT a story!! You live and you learn and you know what happened, what needed to happen, and what will happen next time. You're crazy like me and rehash all the things in your head too. (I like that!) I can't WAIT to hear about the next one!!

  3. Have you ever carried Powerbars or Clif Bars or anything on a ride? Those are designed to give your body energy, and are not crunchy! Fruit rolls are good too. :) You could also try those Ensure drinks if you don't feel like chewing anything.

    Am I weird if I say that your posts about everything that went wrong get me really excited about trying this sport? It sounds like such a rewarding experience to get through all this stuff and finish the race!

  4. Just now catching up with your posts. You are doing so much right, don't forget to twirl around with your hands in the air about those things.

    Next time you know you're going to be cold/wet, try wearing a synthetic headcovering under your helmet (I use a "BUFF" available from REI). "If your fingers are cold, warm up your head" says my Dad the scoutmaster.

    Good for you for staying hydrated. I think I've seen more DIMR riders because of dehydration than distance. V-8 is a good electrolyte drink if, like me, you can't digest chemicals.

    Food: I've been known to scramble eggs and cheese and put them in a ziplock to keep in the cooler. You can tear off a corner of the bag and suck out the contents when you're on the trail. It looks disgusting, but it's protein and you don't need to chew it!

    Best advice: do what you're doing, and keep asking experienced riders for help!


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